Rage against “Humanity”

The problem with the world…is PEOPLE…

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I sometimes think that people are just parasites on the planet. I am not sure why any Higher Power would allow one species to use and abuse the rest of them. I know there are people who care, and people who work hard to undo all the cruelty, but sometimes you just get to a point where you have to stop, throw your hands up in the air and think: “What The Fuck?”

** WARNING: I am feeling angry tonight. If you object to multiple use of the word “fuck” this might be a good time to stop reading.

***Continue at your own peril, you have been warned…

I really do believe that the word “humane” is in fact a total oxymoron in and of itself. There is nothing humane about the way people treat animals  – or other people!

As you may or may not know, I work in an animal welfare. Most days, I love it and the only times I have gone home cryings has been because of people!

Every single day we receive endless complaints and statements from self-righteous citizens complaining about things they for one, don’t understand, and for two, apart from complaining, don’t actually want to do anything about!

There are two main problems within animal welfare: owners who simply do not care and secondly, but even worse: welfare organisations that really just don’t care about the animals as much as they proclaim to. I don’t know why they bother.

So was the case when we were called out to a farm because the horse had been “down” for a couple of days. Any normal, caring horse owner would have called a vet within  hours. A horse down is a serious issue! But the nearer animal welfare “didn’t have a vehicle to send someone out” despite being the biggest animal welfare around. This just means they couldn’t actually be bothered.

Which brings me back to problem nr 1: owners who do not care. When we arrive at the farm, we see a little white pony lying desolately in a paddock. It lifts it’s head and nickers in greeting from where it is lying. Not a soul to be seen apart from some piglets that are in the same paddock eating the food the pony can’t reach.

Eventually a car (a rather expensive SUV-type car, I might add) stops and two people get out. Oh yes, the pony has been down for a day or two. WHAT THE FUCK people???? Why didn’t you call a vet? No reply. Upon further probing it turns out this poor pony has been lying down for THREE DAYS. THREE WHOLE FUCKING DAYS! And no-one could be bothered to phone a vet.

When we eventually locate someone who could give us permission to treat the pony and ask who the owner is, a finger gets pointed a two-year-old child: “Oh it’s her pony”. Yes, OK, so who actually takes responsibility for it then. No-one continues to step forward…

We try and lift the pony up, but it has been down for so long that it’s legs are ice cold and even when we hold up all it’s weight, the legs just won’t work anymore. We pump it full of painkillers and cover it with a blanket, leaving them with instructions to turn him over every few hours, because still, no-one is making any attempt to get it proper help and we can only do so much (and let’s be honest, the chances that it will make it through the night are extremely slim). We leave, praying that the little pony dies quickly…it is truly heartbreaking!

On the other hand, sometimes you get really caring owners, with welfare organisations who just don’t give a fuck. Such was the case when I wandered into an organisation’s gate, to be met by a group of boys pushing a dog in a trolley.

I start to speak to them to find out what is wrong and they inform me that the dog was hit by a car, but they have been turned away because they are not accompanied by an adult. I am stunned in disbelief. The dog can’t walk. These kids have taken the trouble to push him here for kilometers but they won’t be helped because they don’t have an adult (who can foot the bill) present. The mind reels.

I ask them to wait before they leave as I would like to find out for myself what the reason could possibly be for an organisation which is supposed to help impoverished people take care of their animals to not help an animal that is clearly in need. I reach reception and ask why they haven’t seen the dog. The reply is mind-boggling: “Oh, these kids are in the streets all day long! Why is the dog in the street anyway!”

LADY! It really DOES NOT FUCKING MATTER where they were or why they were there! Your concern SHOULD BE the injured dog!

What I manage to say instead is: “But the dog can’t even walk? Can’t you give it some pain relief at least?”

“Yes, but this dog has been here before!” For fuck sake woman, what is the MATTER WITH YOU? If the dog has been on here before, it will be registered on your system, and you will know exactly who to contact for the bill, won’t you? And surely the fact that he has been here before is an indication that this kid cares for his dog?

I manage to get the attention of another staff member who is not a snooty receptionist and actually works with the animals, and he tells her that they can’t deny an injured animal. She grudgingly enters their information on the system and at this point I have to leave before I climb through the railings between her and me and strangle her.

At the same time, another animal owner stops in a shiny new black car – clearly not a welfare candidate – but this person gets helped with a smile. Which brings me to problem number three: Stingy people who abuse the welfare system and take away vital care from animals that actually need it. And you can be sure, that these self-same people are the ones who will complain the quickest and have something to say from behind the relative safety of their computer screens!

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On being a single mother

20141217_115116Today we celebrate mother’s day here in South Africa. I don’t think my kids quite grasp the concept: “I made you a cookie mommy, Happy Mother’s day!” And in the same breath: “Can I have the cookie now?”

“But it’s  my cookie, you gave it to me?”

“Ok, but then you have to share it with me.”

Let’s face it, no kid on earth probably appreciates what their parents do for them unless they become parents themselves at some point. My own mother and I very rarely see eye to eye. My sister has the better relationship. But on days like today, when my three other siblings and my parents, and now also their spouses and kids, get together as a family I do feel that I am missing out by being on the other side of the country. I mean, she’s my mother after all. The only one I am likely to ever have.

When I got married I of course gained another mother. And no matter what her son did to me over the past year, she has remained as neutral as she could under the circumstances. He never did appreciate her enough. I was the one who had to basically force him to buy flowers or chocolates for her – he saw that type of thing as a waste of money. In the thirteen years we were together, he bought me flowers ONCE. His mother used to give me flowers a lot though. I miss them today – the family that I gained through marriage and then lost again through divorce. And no matter what anyone says, it will never be the same again…he already has a new fancy lady that will take my place completely, soon enough. I hope she doesn’t mind not getting flowers…

My eldest child is 7 years old and some days I still wonder that I am responsible for another entire human being -well two in fact! It still scares the crap out of me on a daily basis. But luckily, parents can only screw their kids up so much and at some point in time, you become responsible for your own actions and choices…and parents cannot live vicariously through their children either. Your kids cannot be held responsible for your happiness forever more just because you had them. They don’t owe you.

Sadly, parents do have a profound effect on how their kids turn out. I have a very dear friend whom I’ve known for almost 20 years. He never talks about his mother. Ever. I don’t know how you manage to fuck up the relationship with your child SO much that they refuse to ackowledge your existence…

My best friend’s mother passed away three years ago. They had a tumultuous relationship at best while she was alive, but her dying has really messed things up…how do you fix a relationship with someone who is no longer there? You can’t. You have to make peace with yourself and how things were-and forgive the person that was supposed to love you unconditionally but didn’t… if you can…

As a single parent I think the responsibility of teaching your kids about love actually doubles…you’ve already put your kids through a fundamental life trauma in which they had no choice. Now you have to help them recover, shield them from any future personal dramas which let’s face it, are inevitable, unless you are some type of heartless, soulless being with no needs for affection, attention and love from another human.

But now you have to teach your kids something that you failed at first time round…that nobody needs to earn love. (This is a biggy. We are all basically crap at this one.) But we have to teach them that despite the awful example their parents set, we actually love people even (especially, actually) when they are hard to love. We love people despite the things they do and not because of anything they do (or don’t do). We have to teach them that sometimes we are the strong ones that carry other people, but it’s OK to also be the one that needs care. It doesn’t mean you are weak…

Most children at least turn out OK despite anything their parents did, so I have that to cling to. Maybe next year I can eat my own mother’s day cookie…

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At least there are always horses…

“Anhedonia”, they call it, the clever people. It is defined as the: “inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities”. It is quite a serious symptom of depression. For me, I always know I am at the bottom of the hole when I stop enjoying going riding. When I have to force myself to go see my horse – then I know I have it bad!

It’s been like that for a while now…a long while, actually. I have had other things to worry about. Many, many other things. At last, these things seem to be sorting themselves out now. (Yes, I know: “things always work out in the end.” – I will still kick you in the shins if you tell me this during one of my anxiety spells!). The beauty of it all is, even on my worst days, when I really don’t feel like getting out of bed, if I can make it to the stables, I have a few moments of joy.

I can always count on the fact, that once that horse is saddled and I swing my leg over and sit my bum in the saddle, things will be OK. When I wrap my legs around that belly and take a contact on the rein, the rest of the world just disappears! All my problems seize to be, just for a little while, and there is nothing else. There is just me, and my horse, and the rest of the world vanishes into nothing. This is when I feel truly alive – even on the days I wish to die, if I can get myself onto that horse, I am OK, if only for 20 minutes at a time…Blue2

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There is a light at the end of the tunnel

and for once, I don’t think it’s an oncoming train.

The last few months have bee rough. Really, really rough. There were many points where I didn’t really think I could carry on anymore. I won’t go into the whole convoluted story but suffice to say that for the past three and a half months I have been looking for a house. I have found many houses that I liked and have put in about four offers to purchase. Every time, just as I thought I was getting excited, some asshole would come along and buy the place from underneath me because I was still waiting for my divorce settlement to come through and couldn’t come up with the deposit for any of the the four said houses!

That little bastard of a Murphy had a big role to play too! I even signed a rental contract just to get out of the house I was sharing with my X-husband. But when I wanted to move in, the place was infested with cockroaches and I don’t know what kind of animals lived there before, but the whole place was a dump. Stupid me, being so desperate to move, signed the contract and paid the deposit and then changed my mind about wanting to live there once I really looked at the state of the place. But the rental agency decided to fuck me over and refused to give back one month’s rental until they could find a new person to rent it – which took them a whole month because the place was unlivable-in and there was a whole load of maintenance that needed to be done.

So I have been under a lot of stress and getting really, really worried that I would end up on the street. Actually, that is still a faint possibility! Because now I have been paid out but the South African Revenue Service decided to screw me over some more by taking almost R100 000 in tax (don’t ask, it’s just too hard to explain!). I have finally found a house, put in an offer, got a loan and was able to pay the deposit. The new problem is that this particular house has tenants in it until the end of July and I have to move out of where I am currently staying by the end of May. So I may well end up being homeless for two months after all!

It has not been good for my kids either. I have always striven to be as honest as possible with them. So they know that where I am living at the moment is not a permanent home. They know that we will have to move again. This leaves them feeling really unsettled and because they spend at most three days at a time with me, they really have no way of even beginning to settle here. It has been tough. At least we have a new (permanent) home to look forward to by the end of July. So that is something. And it would seem now that that one thing is in place, I also feel a lot less anxious.

I hate it, absolutely hate it, when people tell you: “It’s no use worrying about it. things will work out in the end.” This kind of rubbish advice belongs in the same waste basket as: “Sleep when your baby is sleeping.” If I slept while the baby was sleeping Susan, how would I get to have a shower, brush my teeth or wash the baby’s damn clothes?! It’s the kind of thing people say when they don’t have any useful advice. It really irks me! Or the other one that really gets me: “Things could be worse, you know.” How, Peter, how could things possibly be worse than not having anywhere to live?! Actually, I don’t ask how could things get any worse anymore either, because it’s like the universe responds by saying: “Hold my beer!”

Having had my rant, I have to admit that I feel a lot happier and things seem to be generally working out better lately. I am moving forward with my life. I wake up in the mornings and actually look forward to the day. I am starting to make plans for the future and find myself occasionally actually feeling happy! It is still rather a foreign feeling and I am always looking around to see where the catch might be. I have had my wallow and not it’s time to pick up and move on!

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Cats are killing machines. Women are not.

A few weeks ago I there was a little incident between me and a colleague at work. Well, not actually between us, just a difference of opinion about one of the office cats and his conduct. One cat is a fat fluffy old thing that doesn’t move unless there is absolutely no other choice. The other one is a little bastard. When you lift your bum to make tea or go to the loo, he will appropriate your chair. Half the staff (including the GM) would rather fetch another chair (much more uncomfortable) than move this little shit. He is just plain savage! He is also a proper cat and every once in a while will come into the warehouse with a mouse he’s caught.

So on this particular day, he found a baby mouse and was playing with it – alive of course. My colleague couldn’t stomach this. She tried to take the baby mouse away and let it go in the garden. Batman went just off and found himself another baby mouse, so there must have been a nest somewhere nearby. I kept telling her to give the damn cat his mouse back because it was just nature. This is what cats DO. She got very upset with me. I told her if the baby mouse bothered her so much she should kill it so it doesn’t suffer when he is batting it around. Bloody hell, people drive hundreds of kilometers and pay a shit load of money to watch lions kill something; I just don’t see the difference.

My grandfather was a farmer. Farming is not what you think people. It’s not all raising baby lambs and calves and piglets. It is man taking nature into his own hands and raising baby lambs, calves, piglets and chicks to kill them. And eat them. But in between the raising and the killing, a lot happens. A lot. On a big open Kalahari farm, there is still a lot of nature happening. And nature is cruel. There is just no way around that. Livestock get caught and eaten by jackal and caracal and all sorts of other wild things. Farmers in turn, kill these wild things. It is not pretty and it’s not romantic. But these are just people trying to make a living. One thing I did learn from my grandfather was that you never let an animal suffer. Never. Ever. 

Sometimes, however, the lines are just not clear. Like with a cat batting about a baby animal. Today, my colleague would have had a good laugh (if she was into revenge) at me. My one baby cat – at the tender age of three months old – caught its first bird today. It was of course a baby bird. What made it worse was that my sensitive soul of a son saw it first. He was immensely upset by the fact that his cat had caught a bird – how could he do such  a thing? The child was verging on hysteria. The cat was ferociously growling at us, protecting its kill with said child trying to take it away and in very real danger of being mauled. I managed to get hold of the bird, but it was too far gone, yet still alive enough to suffer. I had to make a split-second decision. I did the only thing I knew. I broke it’s neck (The child did not see me do this)…It made me sick to my stomach. I’ve never ever ever killed something before. (I don’t know how people can hunt for pleasure.) I’m not even convinced it was the right decision. Perhaps I should have just let nature take it’s course?

A little while ago, a friend asked me what I missed most about being married. I couldn’t think of anything. Not. A. Single. Thing. Today however, I missed having a man in my life. It’s a man’s job to kill things. (Like that time we had the rat in our garden and I threatened to take it to the vet after the dogs attacked it.) Women are bred to nurture and to mother. We are not built to kill things. Especially not baby things. It was not a good day.

And that after I was so proud of myself yesterday! I did my first solo outing as a single mother and I didn’t think I fared too badly! Although I was slightly miffed by the fact that we were in the V&A Waterfront, surrounded by places that sell the most delicious foods and I had to settle for Spur because the children don’t eat anything other than smileys and viennas.

In the meantime however, the #battlecat has started to invade my colleague’s desk during the day. I’m sure he is plotting revenge and planning some way of getting back at her for stealing his mouse…

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Not mine, but equally thought-provoking….

It doesn’t take much to get my brain to overthink, and often overreact. A seemingly simple term can easily become an entire bloody freight train of thought and sometimes the results are beautiful moments of enlightenment. One classic example – at the end of last year, I bought vegetable seeds so that my daughter can […]

via On vegetable gardens and soul searching — Dwelling on life and the search of some or other deeper meaning

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What if all you had to do was stop getting up?

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Someone asked me this question the other day. What is the lesson you think you are supposed to learn from life?

I seem to have trouble remembering who I am. What I am, that’s easy: I am a woman. I am a mother. Lately, I am a divorcee. I am a horse-lover. I am a writer. I am sad. I am hurt. I am all these things. They are all part of what I am. But I am not wholly defined by what I am. Who am I? What is the essence of me? I have lost me.

Have you ever watched a movie where someone is getting beat up and all you can think is: “Stay down you idiot, you are going to get killed!” But they keep getting up, coming back for more punishment. And you think: “It might be very brave and determined, but it’s mighty stupid, that!” I seem to do that.

Someone once described me as “very determined”, but sometimes I think I can take “determined” above the level of “stubborn” into the realm of “plain stupid”.

Like the time a horse chucked me off and I was concussed. I got back on and rode that horse round in circles until he did what I asked, in spite of the fact that everything around me was swimming in black and I was actually vomiting from the saddle!

Or that time I fucked my knee up by running a half marathon. I ran through the pain, not because I was brave or had anything to prove – it simply never occurred to me that I could stop! For real. It just never occurred to me that stopping was an option.

I am a very depressed person a lot of the time. I have been for as long as I can remember. But I have never stopped. I don’t stop. Never. Not because I am brave or strong, but because I am pretty sure that if I do stop, I will never get started again.

I got very upset with a psychologist once because I told her I wasn’t coping with life and she looked at me and said: “But you are coping. You are getting out of bed. You are eating. You are going to work.” It doesn’t feel like coping. It feels like I am on a hamster wheel running for my life and if I slow down for a second I will get swept up and thrown along the wayside. It made me really angry that she couldn’t see how much I was suffering!

The only place I can let go of life and all it’s troubles are with my bum in the saddle and my horse between my legs. Since I can remember, it was all I ever wanted. It is how I have defined myself – I am a horse rider. Lately I have been so depressed that even making it to the stables is an effort.

Today, I wanted to go riding. I haven’t been riding for three days and I was really looking forward to it. By the time I got to the stables, it was windy and stormy and because we are having a severe drought in Cape Town, I couldn’t even be grumpy about that! But I wanted to ride! That is my happy place dammit!

But I couldn’t. So instead, I groomed my horse, and sat in the manger listening to the rain on the roof, the wind howling and the rhythmical chewing of ten horses having supper. I closed my eyes and just sat there for a good while. Not. Doing. Anything. And it felt good!

Of course I couldn’t sit there doing nothing for very long, so my brain started working overtime. I got to thinking that perhaps, after all, who I am, is simply an amalgamation of all those different “whats”. All the whats put together, make up the unique who. Maybe it doesn’t need to be that complicated.

MAYBE… all I have to do to make life stop beating me up, is to stop coming back for more? Maybe I should just stay down for a while?

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Have you ever lost yourself? Have you ever not been able to remember who you are? I have. When you live through a deep trauma, it does that to you.

 

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